Snow Goose Hunting: A Feast or Famine Affair
It was with great reservation that we watched the ever changing forecast. The discrepancies for the Northern Missouri region we were going to be hunting were glaring to say the least. The one consistent trend we did see was for rapidly changing conditions over the next few days.
This trip was especially important to our group as our prior attempt at snow goose hunting in Kansas had been totally weathered out. Two snowstorms in the same week followed by a major cold front had chased the birds back down south.
My Missouri brother had most of the spread ready when we arrived at the field. After setting out a couple of hundred more windsocks and making a few tweaks here and there, we were set for the evening hunt.
It wasn’t long before the birds started to come. With the warm weather and strong south wind, we knew the birds would be on the move northward. Although we did have a few bunches decoy perfectly, most of the birds rode the wind north and never gave us a look.
The next day was the beginning of the end. The sun had been replaced by clouds and cold rain. The weather was so ugly that some of our group opted to sit this day out. My brother and I persisted but mostly watched thousands of geese riding the 30 to 40 mph wind to the north.
The rain turned to snow during the night. The wind went from south to north and bitter cold descended upon us. About mid-morning we took a break to gather decoys that were blowing away. Although we found most of them, some of the windsocks were never retrieved.
Our fourth day was the worst. Snow showers persisted and the bitter wind continued to be relentless. It not only chilled us to the bone, it also ripped the windsocks to shreds. At noon we decided we had tolerated enough misery and started to pack up a day early.
I have been chasing snow geese for more than 30 years and have hunted in seven different states as well as Canada. During this time, I have learned that you need to take the good with the bad. Some of the hunts have been spectacular while others have been a total bust.
Without a doubt, timing is everything. Spring storms are common across the plain states and must be expected from time to time. Eight inches of snow and zero degrees can shut things down in a hurry.
And so can a stretch of warm weather. Mild temps and south winds will move geese out of an area very quickly. We have seen times when half a million geese move in during a 24 hour period. We have also watched them leave just as quickly.
In recent years, geese seem to be obsessed with making their way north just as soon as they possible can. Some of this may have to do with the competition for nesting territory in Canada.
Without a doubt, snow goose hunting can be a feast or famine affair. Sometimes you hit it perfectly and some days you don’t.
The one fact I do know is I that if I don’t go, I have zero opportunity of success. I have never shot a single bird while sitting on the couch. Because of this, I keep rolling the dice and planning more trips. The bad adventures are terrible, but the great ones make it all worthwhile.